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What Is An Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a job and an apprentice is someone who is employed and learns a specific trade from a skilled employer over a fixed period of time, whilst earning a wage and being entitled to holiday pay.

On apprenticeship schemes you gain practical, on-the-job skills by training and working alongside experienced staff and trainers. On some apprenticeship programmes this will be combined with studying for relevant academic qualifications, which you’ll usually do by attending a college of further education one day a week.  You will also be given the chance to improve your maths and English whilst on the programme and if you do not have GCSE English or maths at grades A* – C then you will be able to retake these or an equivalent qualification.

Which qualifications could I get?

There are several different levels of apprenticeship available – Intermediate, Advanced  and Higher level.

Which one you choose will depend on how old you are, which qualifications you have when you start and any experience you may already have. All apprenticeships combine work with training and learning and some allow you to gain a qualification, such as a national diploma, NVQ, HNC, HND, foundation degree in a relevant subject.

Degree Apprenticeships exist now too. These are offered by universities in conjunction with employers and offer an alternative to full time university study.

If you are an apprentice on a programme that is a profession, such as accountancy you can gain professional qualifications too.

How long does an apprenticeship take?

An apprenticeship can last anywhere between one and six years depending on the level and the job.

Available apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are fast becoming a popular alternative to going to university and the Government is very keen to encourage more businesses, big and small, to set up apprenticeship schemes to meet the increased demand from young people across the country for more apprenticeships in all skill sectors.

Apprenticeships exist in all of the following sectors:

  • Engineering and manufacturing
  • Education and training
  • Information and communication technology
  • Retail and commercial enterprise
  • Health, public services and care
  • Science
  • Construction and the built environment
  • Leisure, travel and tourism
  • Agriculture, horticulture and animal care
  • Arts, media and publishing
  • Business, administration and law

How to apply for an apprenticeship

  • Ask at school or visit your local FE College to check what apprenticeships they offer
  • Search the apprenticeships.org website for providers offering apprenticeships
  • Search employers’ websites and apply directly – big companies tend to have a careers section where you might find these.

You can apply for apprenticeships through your college or school if they offer them. You can also apply directly to employers who are advertising apprenticeships directly.

However you apply, you need to prepare for the interview and here are 10 standard questions that you should be prepared for.

  1. Why have you applied for this apprenticeship?
  2. What do you know about the organisation?
  3. What do you think we look for in an apprentice?
  4. Apprenticeships involve work and study. How will you balance the two?
  5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  6. Can you give us an example of a difficult situation that you have experienced and how you dealt with this?
  7. What would you say makes a good team player?
  8. Can you give us an example of when you have used your initiative either at home, school or work?
  9. What would your teachers / friends say your strengths / weaknesses are?
  10. Do you have any questions for us?

Further information

For more information on apprenticeships and where to find them you can go to the Government’s dedicated website at: nationalhelpdesk@apprenticeships.gov.uk  or telephone: 0800 015 0400 or 0247 682 6482.

Not ready for an apprenticeship yet? – maybe try a traineeship

A traineeship is a course which includes doing some work experience and is specially designed to prepare you for an apprenticeship or get you work-ready. A traineeship can take up to six months to complete. If you are aged 16 to 24 you can apply for a traineeship if: you’re eligible to work in England, if you are unemployed, have little or no work experience and if you’re qualified below Level 3. For more info, go to:  www.gov.uk/government/collections/traineeships-programme

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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